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 By Ian Holyman

Man United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic was 'refereed as a star' - St Etienne coach

Steve Nicol believes Man United were deserving winners against St Etienne, lauding the efforts of hat-trick hero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was "refereed as a star" in the Europa League win over St Etienne, the French club's coach has suggested.

Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick as United won 3-0 to put themselves in command ahead of next week's return leg.

His first came from a free kick St Etienne felt should have been given to them, while his third was from the penalty spot after a contentious award by referee Pavel Kralovec.

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"He was refereed as a star," St Etienne coach Christophe Galtier told his postmatch news conference. "He was refereed as a star, but it is again him who scored three goals.

"In the end, we head home having lost 3-0, with two big errors of judgement by the referee.

"It is hard and it severe for my players, in relation to what they did. Often it is said that big teams are well refereed."

Galtier claimed he had seen his opposite number Jose Mourinho react angrily to the hosts' first-half showing and was prepared for a difficult second 45 minutes.

Midfielder Jordan Veretout said: "For the first free kick, it was a foul on me and not the other way round.

"That's great strikers -- they get fouls. It's a shame because we had chances to score. Afterwards, Manchester United stepped up their rhythm."

But midfielder Henri Saivet said: "We still have hope. We were able to cause them problems. We'll have to approach the second leg in the same way and be clinical, which we weren't tonight.

"We played really well, even if the scoreline is hard on us."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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